3 iron-rich baby-food recipes that are family-friendly and can be made in advance

Preparing nutritious food for the whole family every day is no easy task, especially when the newest member is just starting their journey into the wonderful (and messy!) world of solids. Introducing solids is a big adjustment for everyone involved; often it means tweaking the menu and culling salt from recipes, that baby food equipment overtakes a significant part of the kitchen, and that suddenly there’s a lot more cleanup to contend with (i.e. dishes, bench top, high chair, floor and often, both baby and whoever’s feeding them need a wipe down by the end of the meal!).

Because we’re living with my in-laws and I don’t want to force mum and dad to eat the salt-free and preservative-free diet that would be best for Mr Z, I prepare his food separately. I’m actually hoping that in a couple of months, we can do away with purees altogether and get into a more “baby-led weaning” style of feeding, but I’m conscious of how much mess that whole process involves and I really don’t want my in-laws to have their kitchen completely overrun by their grandson (we’ve already overtaken most of the house… 😔)

Making and freezing baby food in advance

To make things a bit easier, I decided to pre-make Mr Z’s food and freeze them in ready-to-heat portions.

I used to have a few books that had awesome baby food recipes but those are in storage, so I just conjured up these three recipes for beef casserole; bolognese; and potato, leek and chicken soup; trying my best to include a good mix of iron-rich protein, veggies, and carbs into each meal. They’re easy to blend to a smooth, puree-like consistency (I do it in batches with our hand-blender). Obviously as baby gets older, you can just mash them with fork or don’t have to blend them for as long, so you can introduce lumps and encourage them to learn to chew.

I make these “baby friendly” recipes on a weekend afternoon or weekday evening, freeze them in Weinmeister freezer pods, then transfer them into labelled sandwich bags so they take up less space in the freezer. Each pod holds about 75ml (2.5 fl oz) of pureed food – just enough for a 7 month old bub’s main meal. If I make all 3 recipes using the portions below, I have about a month’s worth of food made in advance.

These recipes are great bases  – your bub can eat them as they are, or you can mix up flavours and textures by adding rice, cereal, breastmilk, yoghurt, cheese, herbs, spices, or another type of vegetable puree as you go.

I am a big fan of introducing bub to flavours we would eat on a regular basis, especially the savoury stuff and a wide variety of vegetables. I limit how much sweet fruit and root veggies we give him so he doesn’t get accustomed to eating only sweet food. Baby’s appetite changes every day and at different times of day – sometimes he’ll have one pod or two, or he’s content a piece of fruit (e.g. a banana or half an avocado) or I’ll mix fruit puree with yoghurt and that’s enough.

If you have any favourite baby food recipes you’d like to share, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram, or leave a comment below.

This is one of those "set and forget recipes" - once it's simmering you spend time doing something else. The beef and spinach are a great source of iron and it's a hearty, semi-sweet dish the whole family can eat for dinner and you can set aside and freeze the left overs for baby. Baby can eat it as it is or you can add Greek yoghurt for a stroganoff flavour, or capsicum or beetroot for more veggie goodness.

Baby-friendly beef and quinoa casserole

A sweet, iron-rich beef casserole that is great for baby and the whole family.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 24 75ml pods


  • 1 tbsp oil (coconut or canola oil is fine)
  • 1 brown onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 500 g diced beef (chuck steak is great, or just get the pre-cut beef pieces from the butcher)
  • Half butternut pumpkin, diced
  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 litre water or salt-free beef stock
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach, rinsed


  • Heat the oil in a large pot at medium heat
  • When the oil is hot, sauté the onions
  • Add beef pieces and garlic, stir fry until brown
  • Add pumpkin, potatoes and carrot, stirring for about 3-5 minutes
  • Add quinoa and the water/beef stock, and bring to boil
  • Once boiling, lower the heat and put the cover on, allowing the stew to simmer until quinoa absorbs most of the liquid (I leave it to simmer for about 45 minutes – 1 hour, checking it every 15 minutes or so to ensure the bottom isn't burning)
  • Once the quinoa has absorbed the liquid and the meat is tender, stir in the spinach. Put the cover of the pot on, and turn off the heat
  • Wait for it to cool, then mash or puree to desired consistency and freeze in 75ml portions
  • Add greek yoghurt, cheese, capsicum, zucchini, or tomatoes to change up the flavour or texture when serving

Baby Bolognese

This pasta recipe is a great source of iron and vitamins from all the veggies. When bub is ready for finger foods, save some of the cooked pasta so they can practice holding it (without the sauce!) and feeding themselves.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 24 75ml pods


  • 1 tbsp oil (coconut oil or canola is great)
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • Half head of brocolli, diced (make sure to use the stalks too!)
  • 500 g beef mince
  • 2 tbs salt-free tomato paste OR you can use 500g of salt-free passata
  • 1 tbsp paprika (this is optional – you make and freeze the base recipe and add seasoning later when bub is ready to eat a defrosted pod)
  • 250 g pasta of your choice


  • Heat the oil in a large pot
  • Sauté the onions on medium heat
  • Add mince and garlic, and brown (if you are going to add seasoning, do so before the meat browns)
  • Mix in celery and cook for a few minutes, until celery starts to pale
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato paste (or passata), stir until well mixed
  • Add carrots and broccoli and bring the sauce to boil
  • Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer the sauce for approx 20-30 minutes, until it thickens
  • Prepare pasta as per the packet instructions
  • Mix pasta with sauce
  • Wait for it to cool, then mash or puree to desired consistency and freeze in 75ml portions
  • Add cheese, breastmilk or formula, capsicum or dried herbs when serving to change up the flavours
Leek is a great source of iron, and the vegetables and chicken in this soup make for a comforting and nutritious meal. Enjoy it as it is, or bulk it up with rice cereal, pearl barley or chick peas.

Leek, Vegetable and Chicken Soup

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 22 75ml pods


  • 1 tbs oil (coconut or canola oil is great)
  • 1/2 leek, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 500 g chicken in small pieces (I use breast if I'm going to puree it straight away, but anything with bones makes more flavoursome so you only need to add water instead of stock)
  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin, diced
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut
  • 1 litre water or salt-free chicken stock


  • Heat oil in a large pot, on medium heat
  • Sauté the leeks until translucent (2-3 minutes)
  • Add garlic and diced chicken – cook until chicken is brown
  • Stir in potatoes and pumpkin
  • Add water/chicken stock and bring to boil
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • Stir in broccoli and cover for another 5 minutes
  • Allow to cool, then mash/puree until desired consistency is reached and freeze in 75-150ml portions (I find my 8 month old will easily eat 2 x 75ml pods)
  • Add rice cereal, barley or other pureed veggies to bulk up the soup

A note about re-heating frozen baby food

The upside of pre-cooking baby food in batches is that there is always something ready to pop into a bowl whenever Mr Z needs something to eat. When time permits, I’ll defrost the pod in the refrigerator and then heat it by placing the entire container in a jug or bowl of hot water. But when I’m in a rush (which is usually), I’ll heat one pod in a microwave-safe dish or bowl for about 1 minute and 15 seconds. If you’re going to use a microwave, always test the food temperature yourself before you give it to your baby. Stir the food thoroughly to avoid heat spots. We use the Munchkin brand baby spoons (pictured), which turn white if the food is too hot.

Hope you enjoy these recipes (if you like them, please share this page, or pin it using the graphic below), and if you have any favourites you think I should try with Mr Z, send them to me!

xo Joy

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